As part of a lifestyle and aging series, we’re working with renowned photographer Terry Lorant to showcase inspirational leaders in the industry. Each month, we’ll feature one or a few inspirational member(s) of the Amazing Care Network community who is using his or her voice to empower others in the collective aging experience. Read, in their own words, what the Amazing Care Network’s efforts mean to them.

This month, we’re proud to feature Eric Manese, the Branch Manager for the Newport Beach and La Jolla branches of Rancho Santa Fe Insurance.


ACN: What inspired you to join ACN?

EM: I am grateful for the Amazing Care Network as a resource in my journey.  As background, my Aunt Cora  developed the idea in response to a series of life events which  happened to our direct family. She’s my father’s younger sister and my father passed away in February of 2009 from cancer.  That death was our first profound experience as a family.  Before my father passed away, Cora and my father’s parents passed away in October of 1980, so from 1980 to 2009 there had been no Manese family deaths.  We’re Filipinos, so there are a lot of us running around and it was almost 30 years since the last family funeral, so dealing with a terminal illness and also the passing of an elder was something very new to us. With all of that being said, it was an interesting experience.

Dad was 13 years in remission from prostate cancer, but when it came back, it came back as a different, angrier version of the disease.  It didn’t respond to hormone therapy, radiation treatments or chemotherapy, and within a period of twelve months, he had passed away. During this time, we didn’t know quite how to handle things.  I’m in the financial services industry, my younger brother is also in the financial services, my mom is a retired nurse and none of us are professional caregivers, nor did we know what questions to ask about cancer.  We had a false sense of security which came from celebrating Christmases, Thanksgivings, Father’s Days and anniversaries for the 13 years of his remission, so we weren’t that tuned into cancer and what happens next and how to navigate the disease to the very end.

Q: How did this experience change you?

EM: As a result, we ended up hanging on a little bit too long.  We take care of our own; I think every family does. But when I found myself not eating or having my lunch at 9:15 at night because that was when my shift ended and my brother took over, it became clear that we were all burning the candle at both ends.  We didn’t know.  It’s your loved one, so if he or she is uncomfortable, you do what you can to make them comfortable with no perception of time, or concerns for your own mental health or physical health.

My parents are a great example of the statistic that women live longer than men.  They were both about the same age; dad was a year older.  I’d never understood that law of large numbers until now. My mother took care of my dad, but then the question came, “Who is going to take care of her when my father is gone?”  Watching all of this unfold as a family, the sisters and brother had the opportunity to look and ask, “What did we learn from this?  We’re all on the same path. How can we do this better?”

ACN: How has ACN helped?

EM: Cora saw all of this transpire and of course, as you may know, she’s a doer.  If she sees a problem or anticipates a problem, she has six solutions to try which is reassuring.  It gives all of us a great sense of security to have someone like that in the family.  She saw that it wasn’t just the medical questions and needs, but it was all of the other things that support a family that’s dealing with someone who is at the end of life with a terminal illness or close to passing. The Amazing Care Network represented that resource or solution to provide individuals and families with resources to help with life’s ups and downs. It was also a great way to systematically save for the expenses that come with the end of the journey.  The Amazing Care Network has broadened from a pure medical application to essentially being a network of enlightened and empowered individuals and families who realized that life is a team sport (as I’ve heard Cora say many times).

As a result, no matter how good or talented you are, you can’t do life by yourself and no one gets out of here unscathed.  With that in mind, Cora created the Amazing Care Network, to provide that support system for us as we age with financial, emotional and economic tools.  I’m grateful for that because she’s given us the tools to manage, and manage well.


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